3 Jewish Youths Beaten by Muslim Gang in Paris Street

Three Jewish teens were attacked by a group of Muslim African immigrants in Paris on Saturday evening, a French police spokeswoman said yesterday. The Jewish teens, ages 17 and 18, who have been identified as Dan Nebet, Kevin Bitan and David Boaziz, are leaders of the Bnei Akiva youth group in Paris' 19th District.

Thiery Nebet, Dan's father, told Haaretz over the phone that according to what his son had said, as they were walking down the street, "Four or five Arabs of African origin started to throw walnuts at Kevin. When he went up to them to ask them why they did it, they surrounded him and knocked him down. Dan and David moved in and very quickly more Arabs joined in and started to beat the three with their fists and with chains."

The Jewish teens were hospitalized, one with a broken nose and jaw and all three with bruises, and filed a police report after their release. Police opened an investigation and are looking for the Muslim teenagers allegedly responsible for the attacks.

According to the chairman of the Jewish Students Union in France, Raphael Haddad, barrages of stones were thrown at the three teens during the attack. Haddad also said the incident occured on Petit Street in the 19th District, not far from where a 17-year-old Jewish youth was attacked and seriously injured by immigrants on June 21.

The attack is one of a long series of racial attacks in Europe in general and in France in particular. France has Western Europe's largest population of both Jews and Muslims.

The assault was condemned by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and was described by Jewish organizations as an act of anti-Semitism.

The Jewish Agency's envoy in Paris, Rafi Zaush, told Army Radio that attacks in the 19th District are common but most incidents are less violent and therefore not reported by the media. The French ministerial committee to fight racism and anti-Semitism showed concern over the incidents in the 19th District and turned to the mayor, requesting he beef up police presence ahead of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

The French Ministry of the Interior confirmed that the attack was motivated by anti-Semitism, saying the incident ended with relatively little damage.

According to Thiery Nebet a large number of Jews live in the 19th District and, "The atmosphere here is difficult. Now I need to protect our sons so they will not talk a great deal, because that is what we were told by the community's security people. This time it was my son; it can be anyone. The Jews want to live in peace but it's impossible with the Arabs here. We go around with a skullcap and that bothers them, but we don't care. If we have to take off our skullcaps to live better, it's better to leave now."

Benjamin Touati, head of the French desk of World Bnei Akiva, said yesterday: "The situation is very worrisome. One hundred meters from the place of the attack is a Habad school with 1800 female students."